Suffering Love

If God loves the world, might that not be proved in my own love for it? I prayed to know in my heart His love for the world, and this was my most prideful, foolish, and dangerous prayer. It was my step into the abyss. As soon as I prayed it, I knew that I would die. I knew the old wrong and the death that lay in the world… His love is suffering. It is our freedom and His sorrow. To love the world as much even as I could love it would be suffering also, for I would fail. And yet all the good I know is in this, that a man might so love this world that it would break his heart.
— Wendell Berry, Jayber Crow

It’s Christmas Day, my favorite day of the entire year.

Technically, when I pop this up, it’ll be the day after Christmas, but I pray I’ll still be reeling from what good news this day means.

Most days, I am overwhelmed with the evil and suffering that lingers and prowls all over this world. My heart has stung with bitterness as we’ve spent time with loved family members who speak words of hatred towards refugees, those of other religions, those of different ethnicities than ours. Days before, a young man we prayed relentlessly for, dies a slow and terrible death. The news, my twitter feed, can quickly fill me with horrible anxiety as not only do the things near and dear to me seem to crumble, but genocide is consistently real, hatred towards our neighbor leaving no room for anyone to flourish or thrive, all over the globe.

I forget Christmas pretty quickly. I forget love.

Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.
— Philippians 2:5-7
Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.
— 1 John 4:7-11

Christ’s humility very seriously continues to baffle me. He is the Son of God, and yet, the abounding way in which He gives glory to His Father is also the way that He shows His deep, steadfast, pursuing love for us, in the most backwards ways of this world. Much like the Jews were expecting a much different Messiah, at first glance, I have the same eyes as they do in looking at the manger scene. The Son of God, coming, through the anguish and trauma of a birth in conditions that feel completely absurd, as an infant.

Who is like the Lord our God?

It doesn’t seem to be the “right” way in which God should bring about a new Kingdom, one we are all so desperately longing for. Weak, helpless, needy? These are exactly the opposite of what I have been taught to be, of what seems to rule and reign in this world, of what has the life I’m supposed to pursue.

And yet, there is a different way.

Jesus Christ wouldn’t stop here, at his birth, to be the only point he bears humility. Jesus Christ, fully God and fully human. Jesus Christ, from the start, drawing people from every nation, tribe, and tongue to worship and adore as He gives of Himself.

Who is like the Lord our God?

In all of this, love. In all of this, as we have all lived in this world for long enough to know, suffering. The glories of the incarnate Jesus much greater and more glorious than what I can say, yet, to most, seems absolutely foolish. Our Christ marks a new everything, coming in flesh, that He can sympathize with every single one of our weaknesses, that He can bring in a new kingdom in a way that will look like losing.

My prayer today is that He would continue to give me, as well as all of His children, His heart for this world as He has, giving up privilege, looking to the other, the weak, the lowly, the poor, in the growing from one degree of glory to another in the knowledge of the immense depths of His love. It will mean suffering, but a suffering love that sees the babe in a manger with eyes that know the cost because they have received this grace that cannot be grasped.

The weary world rejoices.

May Your Kingdom come, may Your will be done on earth as it is in Heaven.